Delicious beef top sirloin steak smoked low and slow over oakwood. This easy barbecue steak recipe needs little more than a salt dry brine before letting the smoke do its thing.
Top sirloin steak is a budget-friendly but flavor-packed beef cut that’s taken to another level when smoked low and slow. Although top sirloin is often lean and tough, a low and slow cook can still yield beautifully tender results. With a good dry brine and slow smoke, this smoked top sirloin steak is just as flavorful as any other barbecue beef.
If you’ve never tried smoking steak before, this is the recipe for you. Discover how to smoke top sirloin steak from scratch, from meat preparation to the best smoking woods. Let’s get smoking.
What is Top Sirloin Steak?
Top sirloin steak is a boneless hunk of meat from the primal loin part of the steer, near the bottom of the back. It’s naturally lean and thick (and affordable), so it’s a good choice for dinner any night of the week.
The sirloin is split into two sections: top and bottom. The top sirloin is a part of the cow that gets a lot of exercise, so the cut has less marbling and has a firmer texture than other cuts. It’s different from regular sirloin steaks because it’s sold boneless and has had the tenderloin and bottom round muscles trimmed.
This cut of meat is called top sirloin, top sirloin cap, or picanha. This bold piece of beef can add flavor to a lot of recipes or is fantastic on its own. It does well being sauced, marinated, or serenaded.
Smoking top sirloin will give you a more tender and juicy meal. Plus, nothing beats that smokey flavor, especially if you use flavored wood chips. It’s also a healthier and easier way to cook beef since the smoker does most of the work for you. The extra effort needed to smoke a sirloin steak is well worth it!
How to Buy Top Sirloin Steak
When buying any cut of steak, pay attention to the marbling and meat thickness. Every cut is unique, so a little extra time here is warranted.
For marbling, you want to stick to the middle section. You want some in long lines so the fat melts while cooking, but not too much to where the beef gets tough.
As for thickness, a thick cut is best. The thinner a steak is, the easier it is to overcook. Shoot for at least an inch thick to avoid overcooking. Keep in mind that a thicker cut of meat may need longer cooking, smoking, or marinating time.
According to the USDA, more marbling is an indicator of good quality beef. The grades include prime, choice, select, or standard. Choose based on what you’re cooking and how much you want to pay.
Most of the time, the more you pay, the finer the piece of meat will be. Top sirloin is a more affordable cut of steak, so you should be able to get a thick cut without overpaying for it.
Before smoking, tenderize the sirloin either by marinating, aging, or brining. You don’t need to marinate for too long because the beef might get mushy. One to three hours will be sufficient.
The marinade you use depends on you. Experiment with different marinades, sauces, and rubs. A successful and flavorful marinade that penetrates the meat requires three main components: an acid, an oil, and a flavoring agent. An acid could be vinegar, wine, or citrus, and a flavoring agent could be herbs or spices. Use whichever oil you prefer.
If you don’t want to marinate, you can look for aged steak, but it can be difficult to find at the store. Check with your butcher or try to age it yourself. To brine the steak, all you have to do is rub it in salt and stick it in the fridge for 24 hours.
Any of these preparation methods will help to produce a smokey, flavorful steak.
Strong hardwoods like oak, hickory, or mesquites are the best woods for smoking steak. You don’t have to worry about the wood overpowering the top sirloin because it has a strong flavor on its own.
Consider adding in flavored wood chips like applewood or cherrywood, if you like a fruitier taste. Don’t be afraid to experiment to find the perfect flavor profile to fit your taste.
Times & Temperatures
The ideal smoking temperature is 225°F (107°C) but anything between 200°F and 275°F should be just fine. To calculate the cooking time, you should smoke 45 minutes to 1 hour per pound of steak.
Cooking closer to 45 minutes gives you medium-rare to medium and closer to an hour gives you medium to well done. The tenderness won’t be very different between them, but the smokiness will.
If you want a rare steak, you should shoot for an internal temperature of 115°F. It’s 125°F for medium-rare, 135°F for medium, 145°F for medium-well, and 155°F for well-done. According to the USDA, the internal temperature of the steak should reach at least 145°F.
How to Smoke Top Sirloin Steak
First, let the meat come to room temperature naturally. The next step is to preheat the grill or your smoker, charcoal, and wood chips. The ideal temperature here is 225°F (107°C) but there is some wiggle room.
If you did not have the time to marinate, age, or brine your meat beforehand, you should take the time to season it now with salt and pepper. Garlic is another good option to add flavor at the last minute. When the smoker is ready, put your meat on the grate. Close the lid and let the magic happen. The key is patience.
Once the sirloin has reached your desired internal temperature, take it off the smoker and preheat a cast-iron skillet. When it’s hot, sear the steaks on the skillet. Each side will take about two minutes.
When you have a nice sear, take them off and let them rest for 10 minutes before serving. The juices need time to soak back into the meat.
- Keep your steak tender by letting it rest after smoking. This will allow the meat to retain all of its juices. It is the best way to make sure that your steak stays moist.
- Want to enjoy leftovers the next day? The best way to reheat smoked sirloin is by warming it in an oven at 275°F (135°C) and then searing it for one minute in a skillet. The oven will take 20-30 minutes.
Smoked Top Sirloin Steak
- oak smoking wood
- 4 top sirloin steaks at least ½ inch thick
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- Rinse steaks and pat dry with paper towels
- Dry brine the steaks by applying kosher salt across the entire meat surface, covering all sides. Top with black pepper.
- Leave to dry brine for 30 minutes at room temperature
- Fire up your smoker to 225°F (107°C). If you are using a charcoal grill, ensure you set up for 2-zone indirect cooking.
- Place your steak on smoker racks and cook until the steak’s internal temperature is 125°F (51°C) for medium-rare, about 45 minutes.
- Once the sirloin has reached your desired internal temperature, take it off the smoker and preheat canola oil in a cast-iron skillet. When it’s hot, sear the steaks on the skillet. Each side will take about two minutes.
- When you have a nice sear, take them off and let them rest for 10 minutes
- Slice into thin strips to serve